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How to Name & Store Your Files Effectively

No matter what type of work you do, if you create any sort of digital content, it is wise to have a file naming convention and storage structure. Whether you're writing sermons in Word or designing websites in Photoshop, the way you name and store your files is important to managing them now and finding them later.

Here are some important questions to ask while developing your method:

1. How much content is associated with one project?

This will affect how complex or simple your folder structure needs to be. It's a good idea to separate research and preliminary work from work that's in development. You shouldn't be too concerned with having too many or too few folders. It's mainly about deciding how to group related content together in a way that makes sense.

2. What are the important components of my work? 

This will help you decide how to name your files. You should use terms or abbreviations that will help you identify the file without having to open it. If you want to explore several different directions from a certain point in your work, then including direction and iteration information is also extremely useful and will aid you in recovering information you want to reintroduce.

3. How will I search and/or access these files in the future? 

Be sure to use terms or abbreviations that don't just make sense at the time, but will help you find them later. One thing I always find helpful is to start a folder name with the date in this format: 2013.08.15. This keeps my work in order by the date I started each project.

Here are a couple examples I've found: 

Designer Kerem Seur posted this helpful image detailing his method a couple months ago on Dribbble: 

In conversation resulting from Kerem's post, Josh Hemsley  (who helped design & build things like Nest & Sevenly) shared how he names files:

Have you found an effective system for naming & organizing your files? If you need help thinking through the method you should use, leave a comment below, send me an email or hit me up on Twitter.

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